Portlanders jogging and biking the Leif Erikson trail in Forest Park Saturday came upon a perplexing sight: a white antelope with curved black horns loose on the trail.
After an hour or so, the animal's owner, Reed Gleason, showed up with a bucket of grain and coaxed it to lay down. Gleason said the animal was a male scimitar-horned oryx named Yellow Nose, and that it had escaped from his property a mile or so away on Skyline Boulevard.
"Somebody left the gate open. And the dominant male gives the other males a certain amount of hassle, just to keep them in line. Yellow Nose has left before. He’s way far from home now," Gleason said.
Gleason, a 70-year-old engineer, said he keeps a herd of 11 oryx on his 5 acres. He bought a single male and a pregnant female 20 years ago from Richard Noble, an Oregon attorney and rare animal collector.
Gleason described his herd as healthy, although he said he does worry they are inbred.
"After 20 years, I'm not so thoroughly charmed. But c'mon, it's an antelope, an African antelope. It wouldn't be alive otherwise," he said.
The scimitar-horned oryx is extinct in its native range in North Africa, but thousands of them have been bred in captivity in the United States and other countries.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does little to regulate the animals in captivity, and several Texas ranches offer oryx hunting.
Gleason waited for a friend to bring a trailer and help load up the antelope, and kept an eye on Yellow Nose as a steady stream of curious humans passed him on the trail. As of Sunday morning, Gleason said the animal was still loose in the park and the plan had shifted to bringing in a veterinarian with a tranquilizer gun to sedate the animal so they could transport him out of the park.
He told people they were welcome to photograph the oryx, but shouldn't get too close. He said oryx rarely harm humans, but are known to attack and kill dogs, so several people scooped up their dogs and carried them down the trail past the quiet antelope.